The locale: Historic town famous for its carbonated mineral springs and home to the oldest thoroughbred horse racing track in the United States. About 4 -1/2 hours east on I-90.
The scoop: Each summer, the rich and famous gather in Saratoga Springs for six weeks of thoroughbred racing (this year: July 21 — Sept. 4). It’s the oldest “meet” in the country (including the Kentucky Derby). It’s also the only track in the country where people can watch horses parade through the grounds to the paddock before each race. But if you can’t make the races, Saratoga Springs provides a fantastic getaway any time of the year.
Saratoga Casino Hotel, 342 Jefferson St. — Opened in 2016, the brand new hotel offers luxurious accommodations and is connected to the casino.
Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa, 24 Gideon Putnam Road — Named for the visionary Gideon Putnam who discovered the area’s natural mineral springs, the luxurious hotel is located in Saratoga Spa State Park and features the Roosevelt Bath & Spa and world class dining.
Saratoga Arms, 497 Broadway — This premier boutique hotel is located on Saratoga Spring’s main drag, Broadway, close to restaurants and shops.
New: The totally renovated Victorian Adelphi Hotel (365 Broadway) is set to open this summer. The historic building dates back to 1877. The renovation and restoration is stunning.
Saratoga Racetrack (Saratogaracetrack.com) — Despite being the “sport of kings,” the track is family-friendly. For all its prestige, the historic track provides a fantastic experience for folks from all walks of life. For a small fee, you can enter the grounds; bench seats and picnic tables can be saved with a newspaper, program, tablecloth or coolers. (Yes, you can bring food and drink in!) Grandstand tickets must be purchased separately. Listen for historic ringing of the the “riders up” bell. Best experience: Enjoy a Club House buffet breakfast on the porch from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Watch gorgeous horses train in the cool of the morning, then take a free Backstretch Tram Tour (7:30 to 9 a.m.)
Culture/history — National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (191 Union Ave.) provides an in-depth look at the history of the sport. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is home to music, dance and more all year long. The famous Caffe Lena (47 Phila St.) is America’s oldest continuously operating folk coffeehouse. Yaddo Gardens (312 Union Ave.) are open to the public and free to tour.
Hattie’s Restaurant, 45 Phila St. — Established in 1938, the quirky restaurant’s rich history is as much a part of Saratoga as horseracing. Go for the fried chicken.
Druther’s Brewery, 381 Broadway — In summer, the patio is filled with people (and their dogs). Great beer and outstanding pub grub.
Sweet Mimi’s Café & Bakery — Breakfasts to die for. Cinnamon roll pancakes are one of Mimi’s specialties.
Longfellows Hotel, 500 Union Ave. — Converted 1900s dairy barns are now a hotel with a delicious restaurant. An unbelievable $23 prix fixe three course dinner is served Sunday-Friday 4-6 p.m.
There’s an eclectic, plentiful mix of shopping on Broadway. We like the quirky Northshire Bookstore (424 Broadway, Northshire.com), Lifestyles women’s clothing, accessories and footwear (436 Broadway, Lifestylesofsaratoga.com) for its chic styles, and Kilwins (420 Broadway, Kilwins.com) for its luscious caramels.